Impressions on a Fat Tuesday

Roy Orbison sings “Pretty Woman” as the man by the window, white earplugs delivering his preferred white noise, ruffles the paper, sets it down, and stands up to leave, almost as if he can feel me observing, writing about him.   A buddy and he walk out the door, into the rain, calling back over their shoulders “Have a nice day.”   Iris cranks out the coffee from the grinder, the clicking cracking the quiet of the coffee shop.   Water falls in straight lines through the light, and cars whoosh by, the street busy with early morning souls hurrying toward wherever early morning souls hurry toward.    I am not content, but I’m close.   4:45 the alarm strummed me awake, and the workout was simple, even easy.   Odd thing though, I didn’t drink anything–not a drop–until after the workout, after the shower, after the kiss goodbye to my wife, after the trip to the coffee shop, after the latte was poured, the thick foam carved into the leaf shape hovering for a brief moment on the top of the cup.   Then I drank.   Thankfully, the coffee was hot enough.

I am not content, but I’m close.

I am frightened.   A little, at least, because of a situation in my family that I’m unsure how to insert myself into, or even if I should.   I am thrilled.  I’m acting again, last night being the first rehearsal of the next play at what I think of as my home theatre.   I am hopeful.   Plans for the next ten years are clarifying, and though I know there are no guarantees, the fact that any shape at all is observable I take as a blessing, an arrival of a guide.   (I say arrival…He’s never gone.)  I am proud.   Both good and bad, this one–so I’ve got children I can barely think of, I love them so much.   Then again, the pride thing is my back being up, being offended, thinking I’m something I’m not, having a hard time saying “sorry”, even though I’ve said it a zillion times in my years.  I am grateful.   I won’t even begin to list.   My thanks likes lists, and I haven’t time for the full boggling of the mind that comes with that sort of inventory.   Begin with material, end with the invisible, sandwich them with cosmos large and small, quantum and Newtonian, and wrap it family and whatever bits of love you can wrap your head around.   I am in love.   I blew a kiss to the girl who has my heart as we drove cars in opposite directions in the pre-dawn rain.   She is light that refuses to be extinguished, much like the Lord we both look to.   I am tempted.   It’s Fat Tuesday after all…what’s a little indulgence like the rest of the world?  Lent comes tomorrow, and it’ll be time to bow the head anew, reflect again on the loss and the sacrifice and the regret.   Confession is good for the soul.  Should I do a thing today I’ll have to confess tomorrow, knowing God will forgive?   As Paul said, “Dumb idea.”   (My translation.)

Here comes the light, here comes the day.  How do you plan worship?  How do you plan to be surprised by the greatness of God so much so that you have to sing about it?   Who knows, but that’s my task today.   And we ministers will pray, and I’ll meet with people over more and more coffee, and I’ll memorize lines, and imagine two guys named Grant and a guy named Lee slugging it out over a long ago war.   I’ll grade a couple of papers if I have time, all of it before doing the table work with a director and the other actors of the play that will be part of my Lenten practice for 2010.   I’ll miss things.   I’ll discover something big, a small thought, like I did yesterday (not ready to say what it is.)  I’ll sleep, or I won’t, and I’ll think of whether I built the day on rock or sand.   Did I judge?  Did I let my yes be yes?   Did I lay up a treasure here, or perhaps in a higher place?   (Is Heaven really “up?”) I’ll hurry, I’ll work hard, I’ll slough off at least one thing, and I’ll torture myself over some bit of incompetence I’ll be sure someone will notice.   I’ll do better and worse than yesterday and tomorrow all at the same time.

Here we go.

I have nothing to say, really, but words arrive anyway, appearing ready for service, and I write them down, trusting that something will emerge.

On Sundays, I forgo Lenten practice because always, the Christ rises on Sunday.   I cannot fast as resurrection happens all over again.   As the tradition holds, feasting trumps fasting on the Son’s day.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner…

One Reply to “Impressions on a Fat Tuesday”

  1. Jeff, I know that you wrote this almost a month ago but I just read it. I sometimes wonder if you have been listening to my thoughts as you write. There are times that you write and it is real and so honest that I am weeping when I am done. Thank you for writing.

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